Still Part of the Fellowship

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abstract-fine-color-waves-910x300A church friend contacted me yesterday and I wanted to share how encouraging she was.
I was explaining how sad I was that I haven’t been able to get to church as much, although I have made it to life group a few times and the Christmas concert.

She said: “But you’re still part of the fellowship. Every single person who can’t get to church for one reason or another is still part of the fellowship.”

This is such a powerful thing for me to hear and I realised that the fellowship IS all still going on: texts, letters, visits, support, prayer, music, podcasts and reading.

There are lots of people who can’t always get to the services, through ill health or distance.

I just wanted to say it’s true: “We are all still part of the fellowship.”

QMUL RELEASES PACE DATA – Graded Exercise Therapy Bogus Treatment for CFS/ME

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This is such landmark news for people with ME/CFS. This backs up what patients have known all along… militaristic Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) makes us worse not better. This doesn’t mean that we should stop moving but that pushing through the pain does not work for us. Pacing is more effective. It also partially explains my current prolonged muscle relapse as pushing is what I did through my house move – push through pain and warning symptoms. Thank God for the people out there who campaigned to get this data released.

http://www.meaction.net/2016/09/09/qmul-releases-pace-data/

 

‘Bathing’ a New Home in Music

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Scandi wallpaperI moved into my new flat around 4 months ago.  it is quite hard to meet somewhere as big as this feel like one’s own but I have put up my pictures and move my own things in here, obviously.

However, I don’t feel it will be quite mine until I have a bathed the space in my music – in my case mainly rock/hip hop/soul music. Maybe that sounds strangely spiritual.  I know people do perform rituals when they moving to a new place.  I was encouraged by someone at church to pray for the flat to clear it of negative energy,  or dark stuff.  I did.

Praying for Healing Isn’t Enough

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Praying for our health isn’t enough. I’ve learned that we have to pray to God to be shown what we need to change –  how our thinking and behaviour need to alter, no matter how painful the execution of those things may be.  We need to meet God halfway and take responsibility for our own part. But sometimes we need God to show us what those steps are.  

Just vaguely praying for healing for ourselves and our friends, for example, in Life Group, which is what we do a lot of, isn’t enough. We need to get specific. 

 

Not Celebrating Recovery

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DSCF2594As the relapse in my health – long-term condition –  from hell continues I have dropped all regular commitments, including Celebrate Recovery at church in nearby city.

Not even sure I am going to go back to it. Not making any plans at all like that. Researching how to recover from this relapse a lot and thinking I may just stick to following my church’s sermons online while I recover.

CR is great but there are a lot of platitudes uttered from the manual. It is also a very tiring evening, especially if there are only two of you in the small sharing group. I will carry on doing my moral and spiritual inventory though. That’s useful.

Sweet Memories of My Friend Who Died Saturday

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My friend PJ died on Saturday. She was friend, neighbour and some time client – and I was her client too. She was a nurse, a high flying one, and a holistic therapist. Hugely talented.

I thought a lot of her. Admired her. Envied her. She had the family I would have longed to be part of, a great job, great friends, smashing kids and a brilliant husband.

I’d listen open-mouthed as I heard about all the energy she’d expended – over the weekend, say. I could only dream of being that well. I don’t mean she was flighty or an adrenaline addict, no! She just had a zest for life and a lot of stamina.

Her youngest daughter was the very first person who spoke to me when I moved into that leafy, middle-class street 16+years ago with my now erstwhile husband. The daughter invited me into her house to a benefit for the Tanzanian tiger! I bought a fairy cake. I recall that, PJ, the woman who later became my friend, was sitting at the dining room table chatting while lots of well turned-out children did their best for our big cat friends. It’s a nice memory.

Although I knew her for 16 years she knew me better than I knew her. Most times it was me seeing her for treatment and there was a good measure of counselling/listening involved on her part. She understood about boundaries and professionalism.

I was also lucky enough to be a guinea pig when she was studying aromatherapy. Her massages, in her fantastic, elevated summer house, were awesome. When I had to go into hospital for surgery in 2013 PJ made up an aromatherapy stick for me to calm my nerves. It comprised rose oil and frankincense. Still got it and it still smells divine!

She helped me no end: when I was undergoing some awful stress related to my ex’s family, (2009) and during our break-up, (2011) and after that too. Her generosity was much appreciated. Incidentally, her acupuncture treatments were one of the few things that truly helped me out of all those I’ve tried.

The last time I saw her was Autumn 2015. She had moved away by this time to the North but she was back in the city to meet friends for lunch. I kept bumping into them and she was really giggly from lunchtime wine and lively chatter. She looked as glowing as ever and very happy.

Just weeks later she was diagnosed with cancer. It was aggressive and unrelenting. She died around 7 months after diagnosis.Within the last two days her eldest daughter has raised over £1,310 via http://www.justgiving.com for Hospice at Home.

I’m heartbroken for PJ, her family and close friends. As a Christian I don’t know what to make of it. I can pray for them.

I’ll always remember PJ. At 52 she really is gone too soon.

 

How Hearing of A Friend’s Shortened Life Expectancy Can Galvanise Us

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Hearing yesterday about a beloved friend’s terminal cancer (could be weeks, months or years – not sure yet) has made me aware that I’m spending too much time living in the past and the future and not concentrating on the now.

I’m determined to make some changes in my life, even just little ones, like not being involved with too many things on Facebook! I do the Christian business club page, update my church’s public page, then there is our prayer group, where I am the admin, and I also am admin on a client page plus have my own business page. Time to do something else I think.

There are some bigger changes I want to make too but I’m working my way through those and how I might proceed.

 

Eucharist at ‘Rival’ Church

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Have hideous cough and thus I felt it was not fair to breathe over my brethren at my usual church and that the long service and the drive was not a good idea.

Instead I went to a local church (Church of England) for 30 minute evensong. There were only six of us (not much chance to pass on germs) as opposed to the 50 that usually go on a Sunday eve at my church but it was nice. But I DO miss my usual church when I can’t go.

Having said that, I feel it’s better to go somewhere than not go at all. It focuses the mind.

Pretend Auntie Dies

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auntie-noeMy pretend auntie, who was also my mother’s best friend, died suddenly on Monday. She was, like me, a divorcee with no children. She had been estranged from her family for years too but I never knew why.

I’m sad. Pretend Auntie was more of an aunt than my real aunt and more of a godmother than my real godmother ever was.

Mum and I will be going to the funeral in North Yorkshire, which is not where she lived but where she wanted to be cremated!

The Elderly Fall

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Come to home town for a few days as my elderly mum had a fall. She’s OK and been checked out at hospital but in pain. I will probably take her back to my adopted town to recuperate and she’ll have company then.

In other news the flat I am buying has land issues. It’s been going on for ages. If things can’t be resolved I’m going to have to walk away. I will lose solicitor’s fees and probably my buyer. It’s causing me a lot of lost sleep and much anxiety.

I’ve been doing well with my Lent Challenge to do one new thing a day but I won’t report back every day as that makes it a pressurised thing and i get sea-sick from being on screen too much.

 

 

My Big Posh Church, Lent, Day 18.

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As I was very tired from my night out I decided to go to our town’s poshest church rather than make the trip to my own church this evening.

Very beautiful surroundings and wonderful choir, good sermon, but strange to be there.

This posh church’s ethos is extremely liberal – which is my 1970’s upbringing background. It’s all gay vicars and seminars on transgender issues. But the hierarchical nature of the service, the Us and Them aspect (congregation v clergy), the formality, is now alien to me, yet this is what I grew up with.

At my usual church services anyone can pray out loud, singing is done by all of us and we sing a LOT! Sermons, a.k.a. the message, are chatty, funny, moving. But gay vicars are a big no-no. It’s a fundamental church, in effect, though with kindly pastoral care rather than punishing.

Sometimes trying new things can be a disappointment. But it does stretch you and also makes you appreciate what you have already.

‘Celebrate Recovery’ is Not Just for Addicts

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Speaking of things that don't quite deliver on their promises...

I went to my first ever session of Celebrate Recovery this week. It’s a Christ-centred 12 step programme for anyone with ‘hurts, hang-ups or habits’ that are holding them back in life.

I’d been thinking about going for a while and a guy from my divorce group suggested that I give it a go. A lot of people think it’s just for addicts and alcoholics but that’s not the case. Anyone who’s battling with various issues (and who isn’t?) is welcome. Some examples would be: perfectionism, debt, guilt, divorce, anger, abuse, insecurity, gambling, anxiety, emotional abuse and other abuses, overspending, coming form a dysfunctional family, grief – plus lots of other things.

I realised that I do suffer from some low self-esteem issues emanating from childhood, my long-term illness and the divorce. Also, I think I have a tendency to co-dependency. Not like I used to but it could still be an issue. I know I am not experiencing as much joy in my life as I used to and these things are barriers to joy or freedom.

Not sure how much I can commit to the course (it runs for a year and some people go for many years) but I’ve at least made a start.

 

Coincidences or Divine Intervention?

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Feeling awed! Mum and I were standing on her front doorstep in the town of my birth, waving off my very old friends, Bristol-based P and J, who I see just 1-2 times a year, when who should drive down our fairly out-of-the-way street but my friends/former neighbours, E and S, from the town where I now live (about 50 miles away.) E and S had NO IDEA my mum lives on this street and that this is the family homestead. Sheer coincidence.

Then… At the very same time my old hairdresser drove passed them in the same make and model and silver coloured car as E and S own, waving, AND at the same time mum’s neighbour, Brian, came out to tell me that I had a flat tyre – I had not noticed. There was a nail in it. He pumped the tyre up for me and I rushed off to Kwik Fit and got it replaced. Brian probably saved my life ‘cos I’ll be driving on the motorway tomorrow.
Coincidences or not?!

I had been feeling tearful and forsaken earlier in the day but these coincidences made me feel like there was some sort of pattern work going on!

 

 

 

Moving House and Worrying

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No wonder they say moving house (buying and selling) is one of the most stressful life events.

his has got to be one of the worst hings I’ve ever been through – and I’ve suffered a lot in other ways in life; I’m not being overdramatic.

I wish my faith was much stronger, that I could trust in God that everything will work out for the best. But my faith is not strong enough.

Now I can’t sleep for worrying. I’ve tried CBT thought records tonight but it hasn’t stopped the thoughts from racing.

A lot of my problems would be solved with money. It may not make you happy but it certainly smooths the way.

 

Stuck on Moors – Life Group Men to the Rescue

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_65108948_peterfarrellEach year my church Life Group holds its Christmas party at a very remote farm in one of the widest upland areas in northern England. The farm is about 16 – 20 miles away from my home.

Twice I have driven to this place, by myself, with no problem, in poor driving conditions. This year was different.

Firstly, I was running late because I’d had to go back home to pick up something I had forgotten. It had been 12 months since I’d done this route.. Secondly, I had my dog with me.

As I drove up onto the moorland in the  pitch, pitch black I thought, ‘Wow – this place really is remote. How much further can this be?’

A car behind me was driving too close. The headlights were shining in my eyes. Fortunately, the car turned off and I went on my way.

But then I realised that the scenery had changed – and I didn’t recognise it. Walls had disappeared. All I could see was road (more a track) and reed beds. And very deep darkness.

It struck me that the car behind me had been turning into the right place – the farm, my destination. It was I who was wrong. I’d overshot the mark.

No problem, I would turn in the road.

I got halfway through my three point turn… Disaster. I couldn’t reverse. The grassy verge wasn’t firm ground at all. It was bog – literally! The reeds should have been a clue. My wheels were stuck fast in the mud. I couldn’t move. My muscle problems meant I couldn’t push my way out nor could I walk to the nearest building (which was probably the farm itself).  And I was blocking the road.

I got my mobile phone out. Would there even be a signal?

Yes!

I rang the pastor’s wife. No reply. I rang the pastor. No reply. I rang again. Still no-one answered. Busy with party prep and entertaining.  I was now nearly fifty minutes late. Would anyone twig that I wasn’t just late but in trouble? Possibly not.

Would I be here all night? Thank heavens I had the dog with me for comfort. I rang 999 and was put through to the police. I explained my predicament. I said I was scared. (I was).

The police could not find the road on their maps – it’s that remote. They hadn’t even heard of the village in the valley. Eventually they did manage to locate it and said they would send someone out. They suggested I call my rescue service but, tbh, I felt incredibly vulnerable and, in my panic, I thought the police would be the best bet.

As I was waiting I recalled that one of my good male friends, who I knew was due at the party, is usually ‘switched on’ to his mobile. I tried him. Joy! He replied. The signal gave out but I had time to convey my predicament and location.

Minutes later car headlights came bobbing along the road. Three strong men from my group came along. One got in my car, the other two pushed. In seconds I was free. My ordeal was over. The pastor stayed with me and I rang the police to cancel my emergency rescue. We went on to the party and had a jolly time.

What happened was, in the end, not that dramatic.  I was stuck, I was rescued. All I suffered really was embarrassment.

But much later on, when I got home about midnight, I felt tearful. How vulnerable I can be. Recent, severe floods and extensive power cuts up here have made me realise this too.

God was faithful, as they say. I was okay. But it’s shaken me.

 

 

 

 

Toxic Tribal Ties

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Just got back from visiting a friend and she described her mother (now deceased) as someone who came out with similar utterances to mine.

Maybe the very elderly become bitter and frightened. But I reckon my mum was always negative, thinking back. When she was young it was easy to laugh about it, laugh with her, as being cynical, but now I realise it was actually toxic and snobby!

Hard.

To Sleep Perchance to Dream.

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The Radio 3 logo, introduced in 2000 along wit...

The Radio 3 logo, introduced in 2000 but replaced in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am just listening to ‘Sleep’, which is the all-night world premiere performance of Max Richter‘s eight-hour epic piece on BBC Radio 3. Beautiful but eerie. As a chronic insomniac this intrigues me.

I don’t find praying very conducive to sleep as it makes me think about the things and people I am praying for too much! It’s actually too stimulating.

Sleep is such a precious thing, one I have trouble with, due to my chronic illness. I am doing a sleep course though.

Feeling Grounded Through Worship

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Worship Again

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)   

I’d had to miss church the previous two Sundays and I really felt the lack. I made it there tonight and I have to say I definitely feel more grounded, more centred, I guess, now.

Non-believers would say that it’s all down to doing something nice, like singing, with a group of people. But I disagree. While the singing aspect of a service is very releasing I think it goes beyond that; that there is something intrinsically healing to oneself and to others in group worship.

I don’t usually pray out loud in services when they ask you to feel free to offer up prayers, but I did this evening – just a prayer for all the people in my neighbourhood (which is not the same place my church is.)

Tonight’s message theme was social media, something I have a love-hate relationship with, as do many of us!

Pastoral Care Can Provide a Real Boost

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I had a meeting with Pastor 3 today. This was the first time I’d really spent any time with this pastor outside of a church setting.

I found it extremely useful and got some good wisdom on coping with various aspects of my life right now. I wrote the salient points down in my journal. I try and do that whenever someone says something that I know I need to hammer into my brain as I am prone to a lot of doubt (about the world) and self-doubt.

I am very interested in the role of pastors. I think it is because I am interested in how organisations work, even though can be something of a lone wolf myself.

Download: It’s Not Just a Festival

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It was the Download Festival this weekend in the UK, a rock festival attended by thousands. I wasn’t there. I’m completely immersed in stuff to do with the house and house selling. It sounds like fun from the outside but it is dull. And immensely tiring.

Yesterday my gardener guy came. He’s a Buddhist – and a dedicated one at that. He is very inspiring, not just because of what he says but because of how he is.

Anyway, I’ve had to miss church and Life Group this week and feel somewhat cast adrift with out those touchstones. Thank heavens for the DOWNLOADS though.

These are the downloads our church provides every week – each sermon (we call them ‘messages’) is uploaded on to the church website for our listening pleasure. I’ve just listened to Pastor 3. It’s not quite the same as being there but these downloads are extremely useful and help with your spiritual journey and keep you connected to the church itself.

We are lucky.